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Health Care, Tech Names Lead Decline in US stocks

Business Roundup for Friday, March 21.

Protesters, many of the expatriate Ukrainians, demonstrate near Downing Street against the Russian annexation of Crimea
Protesters, many of the expatriate Ukrainians, demonstrate near Downing Street against the Russian annexation of Crimea (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
NEW YORK (AP) — Weakness in the health care and technology sectors dragged the U.S. stock market lower. Health care stocks, which have risen more than other industries over the past year, fell sharply on Monday. Pfizer had the biggest loss in the Dow Jones industrial average, 2 percent. Biotech stocks continued a decline that began Friday after lawmakers questioned the pricing of a Hepatitis C drug. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell nine points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 1,857. The Dow lost 26 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,276. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 50 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,226. Facebook, which has more than doubled over the past year, fell 5 percent. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.73 percent.TEXAS CITY, Texas (AP) — Some good news for the more than 80 ships waiting to use one of the nation’s busiest seaports. The Coast Guard says its goal it to reopen part of the Houston Ship Channel today. It’s been closed since Saturday, after a barge carrying 900,000 gallons of oil collided with a ship and spilled as much as a fifth of its cargo.

NEW YORK (AP) — Cisco says it plans to spend more than $1 billion over the next two years to expand its data centers for a new cloud computing network called Cisco Cloud Services. The move makes the San Jose, Calif.-based networking company the latest to serve the growing number of companies that prefer to rent computing space rather than build their own. IBM Corp. said in January that it will invest $1.2 billion in its cloud computing operations.

NEW YORK (AP) — The company behind the wildly popular mobile game “Candy Crush Saga” is scheduled to make its debut on the New York Stock Exchange this week. King Digital could be valued as high as $7.6 billion if its initial public offering prices at the upper end of its expected range. The Dublin-Ireland-based company generated revenue of $1.88 billion last year, more than 10 times its 2012 revenue.

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — The man who helped make ABC’s “Good Morning America” the top rated morning show has been named president of Disney/ABC Television Group. ABC News President Ben Sherwood replaces Ann Sweeney on Feb. 1. That’s when Sweeney steps down to direct TV shows. Sherwood also becomes co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, which oversees all the company’s TV offerings.

HELSINKI (AP) — Nokia says the sale of its mobile phone unit to Microsoft will be delayed until next month because it is still waiting for approval from regulatory authorities in Asia. Last week, Nokia said it was contesting a legal case in India, where local authorities want Nokia to pay sales tax on the export of devices made at Nokia’s plant. The Finnish company says the $7.3 billion deal has been approved by European Union and U.S. authorities.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has effectively killed a Delaware law that allowed state judges to preside over secret arbitration in high-stakes business disputes. Judges on the Delaware court that hears cases involving some of the world’s largest corporations had sought to revive a 2009 law for disputes exceeding $1 million. Lower courts said the law violated the constitutional right of citizens to have access to court proceedings and records, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.

MILAN (AP) — Italian financial police say they have arrested two former executives of the state-controlled Finmeccanica defense contractor in a bribery investigation. Two Rome businessmen also have been placed under house arrest. The four are suspected of setting up slush funds to funnel bribes to top Finmeccanica managers. Prosecutors say in one incident, a gym bag containing $5.5 million was delivered to Finmeccanica offices.

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. weather agency is blaming human impact on the global climate for much of last year’s extreme weather in Asia and the Pacific region and in Europe. The World Meteorological Organization says that sea-level rise leads to increasing damage from storm surges and coastal flooding, as Typhoon Haiyan demonstrated when it killed at least 6,100 people and caused $13 billion in damage to the Philippines and Vietnam.


TEXAS CITY, Texas (AP) — The Houston Ship Channel remains closed this morning after a barge carrying oil collided with a ship over the weekend, spilling nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil into the busy Texas waterway. More help is being called in to contain the spill and protect shorebird habitat. Oil has been detected 12 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile 60 vessels are waiting to get in or out of the channel, but no timetable has been set for it to reopen.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets are higher as investors focus on signs of strengthening overseas demand in an otherwise weak China manufacturing survey. The preliminary version of HSBC’s purchasing managers’ index dropped to 48 in March, indicating contraction. But the survey had a bright spot. It showed that new orders from China’s overseas customers rose. European shares are lower after a eurozone manufacturing survey reinforced expectations of a slow recovery.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Business economists are expecting the Federal Reserve to continue trimming its stimulus program, and most see the Fed ending its bond purchases this fall. The consensus of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics is that the pace of U.S. economic growth will speed up later this year and next. The economists say bad weather cut first-quarter growth to a weak annual rate of 1.9 percent. But they think growth could exceed 3 percent by year’s end.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gasoline prices have been rising. The latest Lundberg Survey finds the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline rose 5 cents during the past two weeks to $3.56. Analyst Trilby Lundberg says the increase stems from a jump in the price of ethanol used to make gasoline and U.S. refiners starting to switch over to more expensive summer-blend gasoline.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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